Key events in 1963, from organized protests in Alabama to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, galvanized the civil rights movement that eventually toppled Jim Crow laws in the South. The 50th anniversary of those events is a great time to visit sites pivotal to the end of Southern segregation and that reflect on key events in African-American history.
The capital of Alabama was officially incorporated in 1819. Once the capital of the Confederate States of America (prior to its relocation to Richmond), in later years the city would serve as a backdrop for several advances in the civil rights movement, among them the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Selma to Montgomery marches. Be sure to visit to the Rosa Parks Museum. Information: www.visitingmont-gomery.com.
The museum is on the campus of Troy University at the corner of Montgomery and Moulton where Parks was arrested in 1955. Its 7,000 square feet include interactive multimedia, as well as a replica of a 1950s-era Montgomery city bus that highlights Park’s experience. Information: 252 Montgomery St.; 334-241-8615; www.troy.edu/rosa-parks-museum/montgomery-rosa-parks-museum.html.
Where to stay:
• Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa: This four-star hotel includes fine dining, a fitness and recreation center and a total of 345 rooms — 50 of those are considered “premium” in case you’re in the mood to live extra large. Information: 201 Tallapoosa St.; 334-481-5000; www.marriott.com
• Red Bluff Cottage: Victorian-inspired B&B includes breakfast, dinner and an amazing view of central Montgomery. Information: 551 Clay St.; 334-264-0056; www.redbluffcottage.com
Where to dine:
• Michael’s Table: This eclectic blend of soul and comfort food with a modern twist from chef Michael Hochalter is open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. It has captured numerous accolades for menu and ambiance, including a Top Fine Dining Experience nod from Alabama Magazine. Information: 2960-A Zelda Place; 334-272-2500; www.michaelstable.net.
• Dreamland BBQ: The legendary Dreamland Cafe opened in 1958 helmed by John “Big Daddy” Bishop. Inside you’ll find a bar, dining booths, a pot bellied stove and kind-to-your-wallet plates, sandwiches, desserts and more. Information: 101 Tallappoosa St.; 334-273-7427; www.dreamlandbbq.com.
Originally it was known as a tobacco and textile town — but these days it’s setting its sights on computer and nanotechnology. Much of the center city’s early 20th century architecture remains intact, and there are multiple dining establishments and entertainment venues throughout the area. For a look at significant civil rights history, the International Civil Rights Center & Museum is a visit not to be missed. Information: www.visitgreensboronc.com.
The museum was originally a storefront for F.W. Woolworth Company. It also was the site of the Greensboro lunch-counter sit-in of Feb. 1, 1960, when four students, in an act of nonviolent civil protest, requested to be served like white patrons. The building remains intact, and the lunch counter is exactly as it was more than 50 years ago. The museum has nearly 20 permanent displays, as well as changing exhibits. It’s an emotionally moving step back in time. Information: 134 S. Elm St.; 336-274-9199; www.sitinmovement.org.